Questions Remain in Workplace Shooting

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Authorities are trying to determine why an assembly line worker left a workplace ethics meeting at an aircraft parts plant in Meridian, then returned and shot 14 colleagues, killing five.

Doug Williams, 48, committed suicide Tuesday following his lethal rampage at the Lockheed Martin plant. Co-workers said the Williams had had run-ins with management and several fellow employees.

Some of the 138 employees at the plant said Williams, who was white, was a racist. Eight of the 14 shooting victims were black, including four of the five who were killed.

Authorities are still interviewing the plant's employees today. Sheriff Billy Sollie said there is no indication Williams targeted his victims based on race or gender.

Hubert Threatt, who has worked at the Lockheed Martin plant since the 1980s, said Williams was "mad at the world.''

Brenda Dubose, a Lockheed employee recovering at home from shotgun wounds to the face and hand, said she noticed immediately when Williams entered the ethics meeting. She said he was carrying several guns and Williams shouted an obscene remark before the shooting rampage.

Dubose said the remark could have been directed at plant manager Steve Cobb, who is white and was slightly wounded, or at Sam Cockrell, a black man who had had an earlier dispute with Williams and who died in the attack.

Sollie said all the shooting victims had been hit by shotgun blasts.

Some say the shooting highlights the need for more security and other stopgap measures to prevent violence at Mississippi workplaces.

Sheriff Sollie said security was low at the Lockheed Martin plant. Dozens of employees frantically ran for cover after the gunman, dressed in a black T-shirt and camouflage pants, started firing after a morning break.

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics president Dain Hancock would not discuss security at the plant. Some employees say Williams was known as a racist who talked about murdering others.

Dale Masi, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work, said companies at times can ignore warning signs of trouble. Masi says managers accept behavior in the workplace that they shouldn't. He says managers need to be trained to take note of "aberrant'' behavior, like bullying or talking about killing people and take action. Masi advises companies to set up clear policies and employee assistance programs.


The following names are victims who died or were injured in the tragedy:

Deceased:

Micky Fitzgerald, Little Rock, Miss., 45
Sam Cockrell, Meridian, 46
Lynette McCall, Cuba, Ala., 47
Thomas Willis, Lisman, Ala., 58
Charlie Miller, Meridian, 58

Injured:

DeLois Bailey of Bailey, Miss., 53
Brad Bynum, Meridian, 26
Al Collier, Meridian, 46
Brenda DuBose, Meridian, 52
Chuck McReynolds, Lauderdale, Miss., 59
Henry Odom, Stonewall, Miss., 54
Charles Scott, Meridian, 62
Randy Wright, Bailey, Miss., 52
*Steve Cobb, Meridian, 43
*(Plant Manager, slight shoulder injury that did not require hospital treatment.)


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